By LE Desk
New Delhi, June 16, 2021: The Supreme Court has refused to entertain a plea for the restoration of bail to former Himachal Pradesh IGP Zahur Haider Zaidi in a custodial death case, saying that attempting to influence a witness, who is a senior IPS officer, is a “very important” charge.
Zaidi is one of the accused in the case related to the custodial death of a man, who was among those arrested on the charge of gang-raping a minor schoolgirl at Kotkhai in Shimla district in 2017. He was granted bail on April 6, 2019, by the top court, which later transferred the case from Shimla to Chandigarh.
The special trial court at Chandigarh in January 2020 cancelled Zaidi’s bail after a prosecution witness and IPS officer Soumya Sambasivan alleged that she was being pressured by him to influence the trial. The Punjab and Haryana High Court later refused to tinker with the trial court’s order of cancelling Zaidi’s bail.
“You have been the highest IPS officer (of the state). How can you give a threat to another IPS officer… If you can attempt to influence an IPS officer, you can influence and tamper with other witnesses also,” said a vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and MR Shah, reported news agency PTI.
Senior advocate VK Gupta, appearing for Zaidi, said all other accused were on bail. Moreover, the former IGP had been in jail for over a year even after the other IPS officer made the statement of being pressured by him. He said many witnesses were yet to be examined in the trial and moreover, the main charge against Zaidi was of the destruction of evidence punishable with the maximum seven years of jail term.
“You may consider this a little factor, but as far as criminal trials are concerned, influencing a witness is a very important thing. We are not on the merits of the case, we are on how you did not follow the bail conditions imposed by the trial court,” the Bench said.
The lawyer for Zaidi then withdrew the plea against the cancellation of bail from the apex court, reported PTI.